How to Become an Accountant or CPA in Connecticut

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What is Accounting?

An accountant is a business professional who performs some of the most fundamental functions of any organization. Accountants and bookkeepers are involved in tallying every organization's purchases and sales, as well as any revenue from investments, interest payments, or elsewhere. However, accountants also perform many other functions, depending on their personal specialty.

Connecticut is a perfect state in which to earn an accounting degree. The close proximity to New York and Boston alone positions students for success. They can easily commute into NYC for an internship or travel to Boston to interview for a job or to complete a summer internship. Furthermore, Connecticut itself is home to many boutique financial firms that specialize in fields such as venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and accounting. On top of this, one of the top industries in Connecticut has long been insurance, which relies on professionals who are familiar with accounting, among other financial skills.

Connecticut's economy also supports many other strong industries including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, and retail. Interestingly, digital media is huge in Connecticut. While this may not immediately seem like an industry that needs accountants, consider that accounting makes the business world go around. Since ESPN has its headquarters in Connecticut, many new accountants may join their team as bookkeepers, financial analysts, payroll experts, or in other capacities. While many see ESPN's success arising from its broadcast talent and sports licensing contracts, the accountants make sure that those contracts yield ample revenue, their on-air talent is paid fairly, and that the electricity bill is paid in a timely fashion.

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Accounting Education in Connecticut

Colleges and universities in Connecticut have stepped up to help prepare students to be a vital part of the local economy. Surely, the faculty and administration of these programs are also aware of the economic climate in New York and up in New England as well. After all, Connecticut is still a rather small state and many students will end up moving to Massachusetts, New York State, or even New Jersey to pursue careers in accountancy. Additionally, many accounting faculty in Connecticut colleges and universities may be former or current accounting professionals from the local economy, Wall Street, or elsewhere in the rich financial landscape in the Northeast. When instructors are able to bring real-world examples to their lessons students benefit immensely. They may also have tips regarding the CPA examination and licensure in Connecticut.

While the apex of the accountancy profession is a license as a Certified Public Accountant, accountants work in other capacities, as well. Since the mass adoption of computers, accountants can be found working in information technology where their attention to detail is helpful in auditing databases, network logs, or other computing activity, which is not unlike accounting ledgers.

Regardless, most accountants work on computer screens and use spreadsheet applications as their primary tool. They typically work in offices for private companies, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. However, many accountants work for accounting firms which consult with any sort of organization that needs their help with audits, taxation, or managerial accounting.

Associate Degree in Accounting (AAS)

Many community colleges offer students a 2-year associate accounting degree. These degrees are terrific for launching a career in business. For those who love working with ledgers and spreadsheets, a two-year degree in accountancy can help them get started as bookkeepers for small and large businesses.

A two-year degree from a community college is also terrific for those who desire a bachelor’s degree. This is because an associate accounting degree will include all of the core curriculum required by most colleges, especially local public colleges and universities. An added bonus to this academic boost is the fact that community colleges tend to be cheaper than most four-year institutions. Some states even offer steep discounts on community college education.

After graduating with an associate degree, students might choose to work as bookkeepers for a few years. Once they return to a four-year college or university their experience will be a boon to their studies.

Bachelor's Degree in Accounting (B.Acc.)

For most accountants, a bachelor’s accounting degree will be the launchpad they need to create a brilliant career. A four-year degree in accounting or accountancy is often required for many accounting certifications and licenses. In fact, most state boards of accountancy require a bachelor’s degree, plus a few more courses for those who wish to take the CPA examination. Naturally, a bachelor’s degree is required for anyone who wishes to enroll in a MS in accounting or an MBA degree program.

A bachelor’s degree in accounting offers students more benefits than the degree alone. Many students will elect to add a second major or a minor concentration to their education. There are many options, but two general categories are found in the business school or the computer science department. Those who opt for a business focus may be looking toward a career in business administration. Computer science students might consider steering their careers towards data science or information technology, including cyber security or forensic accounting.

Master's Degree in Accounting (MAcc.)

All careers benefit from a graduate degree. Accountants generally choose between an MS in accounting and an MBA with a concentration in accountancy. There are also dual MBA programs that pair an MS in accounting with the business administration degree. A dual MBA typically takes students three years to complete, at the end of which they are sure to be a hot commodity on the job market.

In fact, most C-suite positions, such as that of CFO, CIO, and CEO, require a graduate degree. CPAs may also elect to work towards a graduate degree since that credential requires a certain number of education hours per licensing period. Once they have a graduate degree, they can turn around and take a part-time teaching position which can provide extra income while possibly helping to satisfy their CEU requirements. These students might opt for an online graduate degree program as well since those are flexible enough for working professionals.

PhD Degree in Accounting (PhD)

A doctorate degree in accounting is less common than graduate degrees but, these days, more professionals are choosing this ultimate degree. Since accountancy is increasingly paired with computer science and information technology, many accountants are choosing to focus their skills in this direction. With additional education in technology, accountants can steer their careers toward data science, which is all the more valued these days.

While a PhD is not a requirement for most accounting or business administration positions, it may be useful for those involved in data science or research. One field where a PhD will be highly valuable is academia. Students who earn their doctorate degree in accountancy can seek full-time positions with college and universities. This level of academic achievement will enable them to seek tenure on top of teaching at the graduate level. PhDs might also work exclusively in a research capacity for a university or a consulting concern, if not both.

Become an Accountant in Connecticut

Accounting is one of the world's oldest professions. In fact, archaeologists have found that ledgers are some of the oldest written records we have. Where it used to be incredibly difficult to pursue a career in accountancy, these days the academic resources are increasingly easy to access. However, that does not mean that it's easy to become an accountant.

Students who desire a career in accountancy should start early, or at least start to recognize their talents early on. Youngsters who show an early interest in mathematics are good candidates for accounting. Those analytical skills might also be expressed in an interest in electronics or other STEM fields. It can also be helpful to have a natural tendency to organize and sort items.

Once a natural proclivity for mathematics is expressed, students should be sure to take accounting courses in their high school, if they are available. They can also take computing courses as well as courses that demand a high level of analytical ability, such as physics and chemistry. This hard work should help on their SAT or ACT and help launch a college career.

When it comes time to seek a college or university for an accountancy degree, students should ensure that their program is fully accredited. The minimum level of accreditation is a regional accreditation from a CHEA-approved agency. For Connecticut colleges and universities, you’ll look for a regional accreditation from the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). For national or programmatic accreditation, look for business or accounting departments that have credentials from AACSB, ACBSP, or IACBE.

While students can kick off a career with a two-year degree from a Connecticut community college, a bachelor’s degree from a Connecticut university will be more helpful. The four-year degree (plus a few courses) will qualify students to sit for the Connecticut CPA examination. A bachelor’s degree in accountancy may also help them land an entry-level position in a Manhattan or Boston financial firm, among many other options.

Finally, to become the very best accounting professional in Connecticut, students should earn an MBA or other graduate accounting degree. With a master’s degree in accountancy, they can reach the C-suites or become a top consultant.

Careers for Accounting Graduates

  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO):
    This top-level executive position is usually reserved for accountants who hold a master’s degree, including an MBA. To reach the C-suites in finance, professionals may also need to hold a CPA license or certification. This position is often the crowning achievement of a long career in accountancy.
  • Financial Analyst:
    This can be an entry-level position for business and accounting professionals who are pursuing investment banking. However, financial analysts are also employed in many firms as long-term careerists. There are many opportunities for financial analysts in Connecticut and Manhattan firms.
  • Benefits Specialist:
    An accounting degree is a terrific background for a benefits specialist who can analyze benefits packages for their firm. Typically, a benefits specialist works in a human resources department or as an outside consultant for smaller firms.
  • CPA:
    Certified public accountants are considered among the most elite of all business professionals. Their professional examination is considered one of the most difficult tests in all of business. However, many will pass their CPA examination and not pursue state licensure since the certification alone carries high status. A CPA license is best reserved for those who need to sign and file tax documents.
  • Forensic Accountant:
    This is an accountancy specialty that many overlook. Forensic accountants work with a variety of attorneys, private investigators, and law enforcement agents to help investigate crimes. For instance, forensic accountants help investigate money laundering cases but may also help parties in a divorce. This is a terrific option for accountants who crave a bit of cloak and dagger in their work lives.
  • Claims Adjuster:
    This is a position that may only require an associate accountancy degree from a community college. Claims adjusters work for insurance companies and analyze claims made against their policies. They typically are encountered after an auto accident where they determine the value of an automobile in relation to the damage its incurred. Claims adjusters often work from an office but sometimes they are called to the scene of an accident to help determine the value of the damage and check for fraud.
  • Auditor:
    These accounting professionals often work as outside consultants to review a company's books. They may have many goals in mind, including rooting out inefficiencies and confirming whether a firm's taxes have been paid.
  • Bookkeeper:
    This is one of the most common entry-level positions for an accountant. Bookkeepers may work for small businesses or have a more specialized role such as accounts payable or accounts receivable for a larger firm. There is no need to hold any specific degree for this position, but most employers will require at least an associate accounting degree, if not a bachelor’s accounting degree.
  • Budget Analyst:
    This is a very important position. Budget analysts may work for private firms, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. They can have many specific functions, but their primary job is to determine the cost of a project and assign a budget to it. They may provide analysis over time to show how a project is adhering to its budget or not.

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